Guest Blog: Unsteady Political Climate Immobilizes Therapists

Herb SilverIt is no secret that healthcare in the United States is undergoing fundamental changes, creating fluctuating and varied reactions from insurance companies and policy makers.

When coupled with the vulnerable economy and government sequestration, this creates a challenge for healthcare providers to learn and adapt to the quickly changing accounting and regulatory requirements.

The recent announcement by Physiotherapy Associates – a national physical therapy provider – on its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings may be an indication of troubles other rehabilitation service providers in Georgia are or will be experiencing.

Earlier this year, Medicare cut reimbursements to physical therapy providers by 7 percent followed by additional arbitrary cuts as a result of the government sequestration. These cuts not only reduced the reimbursement rates physical therapists receive, but in an effort to adhere to the new standards, also created additional expenses on accounting services for many physical therapists. This double-whammy may have contributed to Physiotherapy Associates’ bankruptcy.

The new Medicare design and cuts have caused uncertainty and confusion for providers.

For example, Medicare reimburses one rate for the first 15 minutes of physical therapy, and the second 15 minutes is reimbursed at another further-reduced amount.

The Physical Therapy Association of Georgia (PTAG) and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) have taken action to ensure the voices of our physical therapists are heard on both the federal and state levels.

PTAG has addressed this, and other costly issues such as excessive co-pay, with Georgia legislators. PTAG also participated in the recent National Conference of State Legislatures Summit in Atlanta, where APTA representatives discussed a potential alternate payment system for 2015 that will save money for Medicare and the insurance industry while providing fair reimbursement to providers.

It is important that physical therapists continue to advocate to federal and state lawmakers the burdensome and financial effects associated with their policy changes. With healthcare being one of our nation’s most prominent social issues, now is the time for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to be proactive and continue strengthening our voice.

You can help in this effort by contributing to the Georgia Physical Therapy Political Action Committee and attending PTAG’s Physical Therapy Day at the Capitol on February 25, 2014. Stay tuned for additional details about this event!

Herb Silver, PT, DSc, MBA, ECS, OCS

Herb is President of Sensible Wellness Physical Therapy located in Buckhead, Atlanta. For additional information visit http://www.sensiblewellness.net/

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